The late signing period of the college basketball recruiting season is finally upon us. After a thrilling month of March Madness concluded by the unlikeliest of Final Four fields, the world of NCAA basketball, particularly its coaches, now turns its full attention back to the "ol' dusty trail" of high school kids, AAU coaches and shady hangers-on.
There doesn't figure to be too much recruiting drama this spring, as all but four of Scout.com's top 100 prospects have already committed to and signed letters of intent with universities across the country.
Not that there isn't still plenty of intrigue left to be hashed out, of course. Powerhouses far and wide, from Arizona to Kentucky, are bracing for the possible early departures of their brightest young stars to the 2011 NBA Draft.
The uncertainty of a potential lockout figures to dissuade a number of prime prospects, as it already has with Ohio State's Jared Sullinger and Baylor's Perry Jones, though other stars, like UConn's Kemba Walker and Duke's Kyrie Irving, haven't found the waters to be too hazardous to jump right into.
Either way, there figure to be plenty of "Diaper Dandies" (as Dick Vitale would refer to them) to watch for once heel hits hardwood in the fall of 2011. Here's a look at the 10 best, according to Scout.com, YouTube highlight reels included.
Checking in at No. 10 is Pittsburgh signee Khem Birch.
Birch is a lank 6'8", 210-pound forward who has the fluid foot speed and athleticism to get up and down the floor with ease and, depending on which side of the floor he ends up on, finish with a block or a dunk.
The big guy from Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg, Massachusetts is unquestionably the gem of Jamie Dixon's incoming class of recruits and should get plenty of playing time right away for the Big East regular season champs, thanks in large part to the graduation of center Gary McGhee.
But also to the fact that Birch is a tremendous athlete with tons of potential—enough so, at least, to draw comparisons to Derrick Favors.
With just two recruits signed so far, it looks as though Josh Pastner's 2011 class won't quite measure up to the windfall he gathered up in 2010.
Of course, that doesn't mean anyone should ignore the players coming to Memphis this fall, particularly Adonis Thomas.
A local product, Thomas is a leaper who loves to use his athleticism to get to the cup whenever and from wherever he is on the court. His perimeter skills are a bit underdeveloped at this point, but, at 6'6" and a rock-solid 190 pounds, Thomas is more than capable of banging inside and keeping the boards squeaky clean.
Like Pastner's class at Memphis, Bill Donovan's incoming class at Florida isn't exactly stacked like his haul of talent in 2010 was.
Nonetheless, Brad Beal should be more than enough Gator bait to help his team bring in some more wins next season.
The 6'3", 180-pound shooting guard is, first and foremost, a scorer, with impressive range extending well beyond the three-point arc and maneuverability with the ball to get to the cup at will.
More important than his ability to create his own shot from just about anywhere on the court, however, is Beal's sheer determination and desire to win. He's the type of player that's not afraid to take (and make) the big shot to win a game—a huge plus for a team that lost some close games this past season.
And though there may be a bit of a problem finding Beal shots and playing time in a backcourt already crowded with guards Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton, something tells me it's a problem that Billy the Kid won't mind having to deal with.
Another year, another terrific recruiting class for Roy Williams at North Carolina.
Roy's crown jewel this time around carries the weight of a name that should perk a few ears in Chapel Hill—James McAdoo.
The nephew of early-1970s Tar Heel great Bob McAdoo, James is quite a talent in his own right, as his highlight video can elucidate in a much more visual way.
The 6'8", 220-pounder is known for his versatility and his ability to operate facing the basket at his size. McAdoo brings with him a well-established midrange jump shot and a healthy hunger for attacking the rim with his noteworthy athleticism.
The challenge for Roy Williams will be finding the forward from Norfolk, Virginia some playing time and catches up front with John Henson and Tyler Zeller set to return to school for their junior seasons.
It's become something of an annual rite in the basketball world for John Calipari to come home from recruiting trail with a haul for the ages.
2011 is certainly no different, and it begins with Marquis Teague. The brother of former Wake Forest Demon Deacon and current Atlanta Hawk Jeff Teague, Marquis is arguably an even more impressive talent than his older sibling, as the above mix tape will help to make clear.
The younger Teague is a crafty and heady point guard who is always looking for shots for his teammates, at least when he's not creating them for himself.
Perhaps most impressive of all, however, it Teague's ability to change speeds and direction. Most point guards of his age and ability tend to play at full speed all the time, which is certainly useful at some times but can cause players to lose control at others. Teague, on the other hand, is uniquely adept at speeding up and slowing down on a dime, thereby allowing him to free himself from defenders in a number of ways.
How much we get to see of Teague as a freshman is still up in the air, as current Kentucky point guard Brandon Knight, a terrific player in his own right, has yet to announce whether or not he will be returning to school for his sophomore season.
The Oklahoma State Cowboys have yet to really take off under head coach Travis Ford, though incoming recruit LeBryan Nash could help to change all that in 2011.
The 6'6", 210-pound forward out of Lincoln High School in Dallas is one of the top wings prospects in the class of 2011.
At this point, Nash is much more of an attacking forward, with the strength to go through defenders and the leaping ability to go over them in pursuit of the rim.
Though his ball handling and midrange game could use some work, Nash's outside shot has improved considerably, thereby providing hope that this future Poke will be the pickup the team needs to move into the upper echelon of the newly-downsized Big 12.
It's seems impossible these days to even sneeze without disturbing a top-10 prospect headed to Kentucky.
Next up for the Wildcats is Mike Gilchrist, just the top-ranked wing player in the class of 2011.
No big deal.
At 6'6" and 190 pounds, Gilchrist already looks destined for NBA stardom. Aside from a still-developing perimeter shot, Gilchrist has all the skills to be great, including the ability to create his own shot, get up and down the floor and lock down his man on defense.
What truly sets Gilchrist apart from the rest is his sheer competitiveness and love of the game. Coming out of the legendary high school program at St. Patrick in Elizabeth, New Jersey, Gilchrist has already earned a reputation as a gym rat who's hungry to win and improve his game at every opportunity.
Throw him into the current mix in Lexington, and Coach Cal has himself more than enough talent with which to return to the Final Four in New Orleans.
No high school kid has garnered as much hype and attention, especially in recent weeks, as Austin Rivers.
The son of former NBA player and current Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers is just one of three five-star prospects Mike Krzyzewski has coached to Durham for the fall, though he is certainly the best of the bunch.
The 6'5", 180-pound shooting guard strutted his stuff at the McDonald's All-American Game, scoring 14 points while showing off his tremendous ball skills.
As far as shooting guards go, Rivers is the complete package; he can hit shots from just about anywhere, near or far, and has the ball handling ability to create such shots.
And while Rivers may not be the strongest or most athletic guard around, he is arguably the most skilled and has plenty of big-game mojo to boot.
Now, the question remains: Will Coach K allow Rivers to flourish like Kyrie Irving, or will he stifle Rivers' development as he did Gerald Henderson's?
When it comes to being stacked a particular position, no team in the country will have as much talent at the power forward position in 2011 as Baylor.
As if returning freshman power forward prodigy Perry Jones for his sophomore season wasn't enough, Bears coach Scott Drew will add another hybrid forward in the form of Quincy Miller, the No. 2 overall prospect in the class of 2011.
A native of Chicago, Miller is much more of a face-up forward who uses his incredible quickness and athleticism to maneuver over and around defenders to get to the basket, which, as a kid who spends most of his time in an attacking mode, happens quite often.
Miller's shot could use some work, as could his strength, but, at 6'9" and 195 pounds, those deficiencies are certainly forgivable for the time being given his other exceptional gifts.
Now the top prospect in the nation, Anthony Davis was at one point anathema to coaches when word surfaced that his father may have tried to peddle his talented son for money, a la Cam Newton's father.
It's no surprise, then, that Davis has signed with Kentucky, as coach John Calipari has never shown much fear of or regard for NCAA regulations.
And, looking at Davis, it's easy to see why Coach Cal, or any coach for that matter, would be willing to look past possible irregularities and the sanctions they would invite to bring him into a program.
Davis' rise to the top of the 2011 crop has been nothing short of meteoric. Two years ago, the kid from Chicago was a 6'3" shooting guard.
Now, thanks to an unbelievable growth spurt, Davis is now a wiry 6'9", 190-pound power forward with the ability to play on the perimeter, in the post and everywhere in between.
Simply put, this kid can shoot, handle, pass, rebound, block shots and play defense with the best of them. As ESPN's Dave Telep said of him, "Davis doesn't have potential, he has 'pro-tential.'"
More like Kevin Durant "pro-tential."